TV Review – Star Trek Short Treks: Ephraim and Dot

TL;DR –  A love letter to the past and a beautiful story in its own right  

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Star Trek Short Treks: Ephraim and Dot. Image Credit: CBS Studios.

Review

It has been a long time since Star Trek ventured into the realm of animation, indeed, The Animated Series to this day fits awkwardly into the Star Trek universe thanks to the question marks as to its canonicity. But today Star Trek takes some steps back unto this uncharted frontier with a Short Trek full of joy and beauty. 

So to set the scene, we open in on a documentary called The Tardigrade in Space as it explores the life of a humble tardigrade Ephraim flying through space looking for a place to lay her eggs. A place that is warm and safe, which is what she found right up until the moment the USS Enterprise appears out of warp and trashes the asteroid she had picked. But then a starship with a nice warm warp reactor would be the perfect place to lay her eggs, unfortunately, a DOT-7 maintenance droid called Dot has different ideas.

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Article – Why I Love Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu)

TL;DR – Its music, story, animation, worldbuilding, and characters that you really care for even though they are all broken in some way

Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ/Kaubōi Bibappu). Image Credit: Madman.

Article

A while back I took a moment to write about Why I loved Star Trek DS9 and since it was a great time of writing I have been meaning to get back at it again. I had a couple of choices but with the announcement that Netflix is producing a ten-episode live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop, well I got instantly dragged back in time to my high school days when the show rippled through my life with every beat of those conga drums, and well I instantly knew what to do next. Why Cowboy Bebop? Well, there are a lot of reasons, the music, story, animation, characters, but more than anything, it was the way it shaped how I viewed television and animation as a medium and got me more and more interested with how it is all made. It is also one of the go-to shows, as well as Samurai Champloo (サムライチャンプル), that I recommend whenever someone want to start exploring animation. So with that in mind let us dive into the neo-noir space-western from Shinichirō Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎) all about trying to escape the past and then realising that you can’t, and then also Ed, hello Ed.

In the Cowboy Bebop world, the human race has expanded out into the Solar System when the first Astral Gate (a faster than light transport system) exploded next to The Moon raining down Luna debris on Earth. The world had one choice escape or die on Earth and so they expanded out terraforming the Moons of Jupiter, Venus, creating the crater cities of Mars, and also Asteroid outposts across the Solar System like Tijuana (TJ). By 2071, because the human race is spread out across such a large region of space it has meant that enforcing law and order has become a challenge, so the powers at be implemented a bounty system and so Cowboys spread out chasing bounties and bringing back criminals to face justice … for a fee of course. This is where we meet our crew of the Bebop the ship they travel around the Solar System catching criminals while trying not to have to spend all its bounty on repairs.  

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Exploring the Past – Your Name (Kimi no Na wa, 君の名は) (2016)

TL;DR – Beautiful and yet also a bit melancholy. It takes what is a quite tired trope of cinema and breathes new life into it.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Your Name (Kimi no Na wa, 君の名は). Image Credit: Madman.

Review

Last week I managed to catch a showing of a new anime film Weathering With You. It was beautiful, bittersweet, visually stunning, and emotionally resonate. Well after having such a profound experience with that film I had a look back at director/writer Makoto Shinkai’s filmography and came across Your Name. I had missed it when it can out in cinemas, so I made sure to check it out as soon as I could. Well one week later and what would you know, here it was live on the SBS Movie channel here in Australia and boy was it worth the watch.      

So to set the scene, Mitsuha Miyamizu (Mone Kamishiraishi) lives in a quiet village in the mountains of Japan’s Hida region. Itomori is a town with a long history of tradition but also of tragedy with fires destroying much of the town’s history. Mitsuha is a Miko (shrine maiden) in the Shinto temple that her family runs under the watchful hands of her grandmother Hitoha (Etsuko Ichihara). Mitsuha is frustrated with her life and where it is going and dreams of leaving her small town and moving to the big city in Tokyo. Well one day she gets her wish, but when she wakes up in the body of Taki Tachibana (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) a high school boy living in Tokyo, things don’t quite go the way she plans.     

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Movie Review – Invader ZIM: Enter the Florpus

TL;DR – A blast from the past that does the twin jobs of bringing closure to the past but also propelling the series forward.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Invader ZIM: Enter the Florpus. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Back in the day, there was an irreverent, abstract, absurd series about an alien trying to conquer the world. Who spends more time yelling at the camera that accomplishing anything. This was a show that created a world that was based around a power hierarchy of who is the tallest among them and it just works. It was a series that was a half-ridiculous and half-scathing commentary on the modern world. However, it was a show that kind of just ended rather than going out on a strong note. Well, it seems this is the year of the rebooting old cartoon shows, and I could not be happier.    

So to set the scene, it has been ages since the alien Zim (Richard Steven Horvitz) and his companion Gir (Rikki Simons) have been spotted on Earth. While he has been hiding, his nemesis Dib (Andy Berman) has been focused on nothing else, including staying on a chair watching cameras forgoing all things like bathing. But when Dib was at his lowest, Zim returns because Phase 1 is complete and Phase 2 ready to start … if Zim could just remember what Phase 2 actually was.

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Movie Review – Toy Story 4

TL;DR – A fitting end to a series that I have loved   

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Toy Story 4. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

Review

I am not sure if I have ever walked into a cinema with as much trepidation as I did when seeing Toy Story 4. I have mentioned in the past how much I adored the conclusion to the trilogy in Toy Story 3, indeed it is one of my favourite animated films of all time. Given they had wrapped everything up so neatly in 3 I was wondering what was going to be the point? Was this just a cheap cash grab, was this going to be a victory lap or was this just an epilogue? Well, it ended up being a combination of the last two and thankfully not the first.

So to set the scene, it has been a little while since Toy Story 3 and Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang are getting settled in their new home with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). It has been a difficult transition for Woody because he is no longer the leader of the group of toys anymore. Well, Woody needs to be helping so he sneaks into Bonnie’s first day of school and to comfort her he sneaks her some crafting supplies. All good, Bonnie is happy and Woody was not caught, so no problems. Okay, so there is one small hitch because Bonnie created a new friend Forky (Tony Hale) and he just came alive and he is about to go AWOL during their family vacation.

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TV Review – Cannon Busters: Season 1

TL;DR – This is a well-made animation, with an interesting story, world and characters. Full of interesting juxtapositions like magic and technology. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Cannon Busters. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I was thinking the other day of my joy at the old Monkey Magic stories. It had me wonder that it has been a long time since I have seen a good travel story where a group of disparate people are brought together through fate and then discover all their flaws and joys in the face of shared adversity. Well as fate would have it just a couple of days later a little surprise dropped on Netflix which was everything I didn’t know I wanted.  

So to set the scene, we open in on a desert wasteland on an alien (maybe) planet with a disintegrating moon floating in orbit. Our first clue that this is an interesting place is the image of a giant bull trampling across the plains in search of a toilet. We cut to a town on the frontier full of dust, wood, and a casual disregard for life. There are humans and other creatures, and all sorts of robots, mechs, and mechanical augmentations. In the streets walks Sam (A Special Associate Model) (Kamali Minter) from the faraway kingdom of Botica. She does not seem to fit the tone of the local area, making friends in a land of gunfights and wanton murder. But she is on a mission to find a lost prince and the one person who can help her do that Philly the Kid (Kenn Michael). One issue is that he does not really want to help, also he is cursed and can’t die, also he had a large bounty on him that everyone is trying to collect. So Sam, Philly, and Casey (Kamali Minter) a maintenance droid head off on the mission in their pink coin-operated Mustang that can transform into a bull. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling

TL;DR – This is a very interesting reboot of a beloved cartoon from the 1990s but I am not sure that it hit its mark.  

Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I grew up in the 1990s, so for me when I think about those cartoons that situated my life for the weird and abstract toons of the peak-Nickelodeon. Shows like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Angry Beavers, and of course the weirdly absurd Rocko’s Modern Life were very much a part of that. Rocko’s Modern Life is/was a show that used its abstract art style and storytelling to shine a light on the world. Now, it has been years since I have watched an episode so when a new special was released, well I knew it was time to jump back in.  

So to set the scene, since the end of the last season of Rocko’s Modern Life, Rocko (Carlos Alazraqui), Heffer Wolfe (Tom Kenny), Spunky, and Filburt (Mr. Lawrence) have spent the last twenty years flying around space after a rocket took their house into space. After all that time, at least their mutual love of the Fat Heads brings them together. But tragedy strikes when the VCR of the show dies, the one thing keeping them sane. Thankfully, at that moment they find the remote for the rocket lodged in Heffer’s posterior. But when they arrive back to O-Town, a lot has changed.

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Movie Review – Enter the Anime

TL;DR – This is a film that blends the idea of an advertisement with the presentation of a documentary and works about as well as you would expect    

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Enter the Anime. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Growing up, one of the touchstones in my early cinematic life was anime, you would get it in the morning on TV, which I had to tape on VCR for watching later. Indeed, I think every one of my generations loathed those opening sounds of the first episode of Pokémon because it meant that Cheez TV had run out of new episodes and was starting it from the beginning again. As I grew up, it was a part of my cinematic world that I just couldn’t keep up with, and every time I go to conventions I see an array of cosplayers showing my just how many shows I have missed. Well when I saw that there was a new documentary about anime on Netflix, I was really interested because it would be nice to walk down memory lane and to explore the future again. Unfortunately, that is not quite what we got.

The premise for this documentary is that Netflix set the director Alex Burunova of working out the answer to a question ‘What is Anime’? Alex, having no experience with the genre other than a tangential understanding of its influence decided to throw herself into the world of anime and manga and the sub-cultures that consume and make it. This, of course, meant going straight to the source and talking with the directors and animators where it is all made in Japan. It is good that right from the start, they make it clear where the genesis of this project came from, it was a Netflix project and Alex was hired to make it. So when the documentary goes to Adi Shankar the creator of the Castlevania Netflix series as its first interview it feels like the right jumping-off point for the show. Well instead of jumping off from there, this is where the show stayed.

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TV Review – Twelve Forever: Season 1

TL;DR – The animation is fantastic, that characters are charming, and the stories really hit home

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Twelve Forever. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

For a while now, I have been wondering what show is going to fill that Adventure Time sized hole that is still in my heart. For a long time it was Steven Universe, but with that gearing up for what might be its final movie I was wondering if anything else would come along. Well, I don’t know yet if Twelve Forever will fill that hole, but at the very least it is interesting as all get up.

So to set the scene, it is Reggie’s (Kelsy Abbott) twelveth birthday, but what should be a time of celebration for her is turned into a disaster when her mother Judy (Bridget Everett) uses the time to help her move into the next stage of her life, the one with deodorant, shaving and bras. Reggie does not want to grow up, all of which is put in the spotlight when all her old toys are put into the garage sale. However, all is not lost because her and her best friend Todd (Antony Del Rio) have a secret, they can escape to a magical realm called Endless Island. They decide to hide the old toys by burying them under the ground. The only issue is that on Endless Island what you bury has a habit of coming to life in unexpected ways.

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Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

TL;DR – An animated marvel that unfortunately comes off as a disjointed mess at times   

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Lion King. Image Credit: Disney.

Review

I’m going to be honest right from the start here, I had some real trepidation on walking into The Lion King today. I consider the original animated film to be one of my all-time top animated films. In the 25 years since I first watched it, it still holds a special place in my heart, even though those 25 years were filled with hot takes about authoritarianism and plagiarism accusations. However, something about this remake just was not jiving with me. Well now that I have seen the full film I am happy to say that it was not the disaster I thought it would be, but wow does it have issues.

So to set the scene, and if you have seen the original film you can probably skip this section. We open with dawn breaking on a very special day in Pride Rock. Because this is the day that the new prince Simba (JD McCrary) is being presented to the animal kingdom. As Rafiki (John Kani) raised the young cub up in front of all the animals that have gathered Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Alfre Woodard) watch on with pride, but someone is missing. Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) the brother of the king is absent and his absence is notable. He wants the throne for himself and he will stop at nothing to make that happen. Well, one day when young Simba and Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph) escape their watcher Zazu (John Oliver) and take a trip to the elephant’s graveyard an opportunity lands in Scar’s lap.

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